"Basically, I found a time where I'm in town for a month where I can actually plan a pop-up."
"Since the whole show last year, I know people have been wanting to taste my cooking," Ha says. The event will give people a chance to do that. Calling the menu "a tribute to summer," she says each dish is designed to cool down diners. "It's hot as heck in Houston. You want something nice and refreshing."
Towards that end, Ha is serving a two-course lunch with an optional dessert. To start, there's a Vietnamese-style papaya salad with beef jerky strips and candied peanuts. Ha served a similar dish as part of her MasterChef-winning menu.
Then there are chicken wings two ways. The first preparation looks to her New York Times best-seller Recipes from My Home Kitchenfor wings caramelized in fish sauce. In the second presentation, the chicken is smothered in Korean-style spicy red bean taste. "It's a tribute to my husband's side of the family," Ha explains about the wings dish.
Finish the meal with a Thai-inspired dessert featuring coconut milk, cream and tropical fruits.
As to her plans to open a Houston restaurant, Ha concedes that it's on the "back burner."
"There are a lot of opportunities for me that I don't want to pass up," she says, noting a new Canadian TV series with a former Top Chef: Canada winner and appearances on MasterChef in other countries. Ha estimates that a restaurant would take all of her attention for up to two years.
"If I'm going to start a project, I'm going to bust my butt to make it a success . . . but everything has to be in place." Those components would include the right location, culinary team and investors.